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05:27 PM on 03/16/2012
Sorry, definitely the wrong audience for this message. Most people here are actively seeking the elimination of these core American principles.
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Those who never question will fall for anything.
08:17 PM on 03/16/2012
The illegals and their supporters are most assuredly seeking the devaluation of most things American. Our laws....they just don't understand them. LOL.
05:24 PM on 03/16/2012
Sometimes there are tides in History, they will run even if you wish they wouldn't. In my lifetime I started as a citizen, I turned in to a consumer and then I became a product. There were not single points in time that this happened, but they were it seems inevitable. The tide is created by powerful forces, in this case it is called globalisation, I am told by some that it is good for me, that is hard to believe as I am swept along.This tide is still running, it has a power I cannot resist, I must go with it. Fortunately, all tides turn. I hope I live long enough to see this one turn.
05:07 PM on 03/16/2012
For years of my childhood in the 1970s, I was required every day in a U.S. public school to put my hand over my heart, say the Pledge of Allegiance and sing a patriotic song. Never would be soon enough to start up with all that crap again.
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Those who never question will fall for anything.
08:18 PM on 03/16/2012
Me too. And I was so proud to be able to do that although I may not have understood what it was all about. But, I knew it WAS important. Fanned and faved.
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07:56 AM on 03/17/2012
I was raised that way, but have totally turned ship having studied the pledge's history, observed the pledging done countries, and used my brain. If I have to be *required* to do something, it's not real. It's fake. I'd rather have five kids in my room of 100 say the Pledge from freedom and mean it than all 100 droning through it as Big Brother allegiance.

To "pledge" is speech-act theory: the act of saying it is the actual doing of it. "I do" in marriage effects the actual marriage. "I hereby bequeath..." effects the actual giving of the whatever. "The jury finds you..." effects the actual judgment. Thus, I "pledge" means I did it. I pledged. It's done. And MY pledge doesn't have an expiration date--doesn't wear off in 24 hours like a temporary tattoo. A pledge is a pinky swear.

Further, I do NOT pledge to the flag. I pledge to the Constitution and to the Declaration. I pledge/d my allegiance to the awesome ideas of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. So, instead of standing still in one spot pledging to fabric, which is NOT real, which is NOT progress, I move around to and fro and engage in the doing of the pursuing and the living and the happy-ing. And I motivate and inspire others to do the same.
Get out while you still can!!
04:38 PM on 03/16/2012
It once was great. No longer. Exceptionalism is the problem.
Paul Abrams
03:29 PM on 03/16/2012
You have beautifully articulated a profound need. I would make only a few small points: i) liberty AND justice (as in the Pledge) themselves pledge us to a creative tension; ii) civics needs to be a constant exercise and reminder, because peoples' "default" positions are more insular--even small companies' executives repeat and teach their corporate mantra; iii) an echo-chamber needs to be fostered that repeats and reminds us about these principles.
Regrettably, the right wing rhetoric against government--which should be, after all, nothing more than a tool to work together to achieve ends we all need--has also poisoned the well about civic responsibility. Defenses are high and well-paid for, and Citizens United is a body blow to the Republic. But, we need to start, and keep it up.
11:23 PM on 03/16/2012
True and Fabulous
12:48 AM on 03/17/2012
Dr. Liu beautifully articulated something, but as a "profound need," that is a dubious premise - as are most of the premises that flow from his essay and which you have described.
03:29 PM on 03/16/2012
I'm afraid you're about 50 to 60 years too late and don't really understand the historical American Spirit. For over 100 years, it has been the Progressives that have been actively dismantling the structure and culture of the United States that made it great. It was a Russian Jewish immigrant with devout Libertarian beliefs (not in the least bit Progressive) writing in the 1940's and 1950's that truly captured the essence that made the United States the envy of all the world. In all her novels and philosophical tracts, she laid down the challenge that each one of us use the 'best that is within us' in all endeavors during all our waking hours.
04:08 PM on 03/16/2012
Somebody should have put Ayn Rand in a cabin in the woods where she could be the "best that was within her all by herself." Self self self self - what a demonstrably false crock. Without others she would have been nothing. Without others YOU are nothing. The ultimate ideal for Randians is living by yourself in a cabin in the woods with everything you need and no other humans to impinge on your SELF. What's hilarious is that Randians are able to spout their nonsense only because the collective efforts of the rest of humanity have created the comfort and structure of the modern world. Randians have chosen to remain unaware of the sea they swim in: the rest of us who work collective to actually get things done. Without the collective, Randians would be dead. And that's the bottom line. To be genuinely selfish (act in your own self-interest), a true Randian would honor and support the collective impulse, which has allowed humanity to create civilization.
Nice day for somethin'
05:41 PM on 03/16/2012
You are so right. As Elizabeth Warren said... even Randian Selfishists drive on roads we all paid for, drink from water supplies we all developed, enjoy safe food because of us, enjoy mail delivery and military protection... education and public safety all because of community investment through taxation. Ayn Rand herself ended up on Medicare and accepted that benefit.

If you think of the truly great things done in our nation, you can thank Progressives. National Parks, welfare for our citizens, Social Security and Medicare for our elderly.

The problem with the Selfish is that they don't project into the future and see what would have happened to the poor and aged if those benefits had never been developed.

I truly don't think it was Selfishness that made America the envy of the world.
Liberal Alabama Democrat-yeah that's right
03:13 AM on 03/17/2012
That's an absolute load of crap.
02:34 PM on 03/16/2012

please take the time to read the text or listen to this speech. I think this says it all. Even if we follow this advise it would not fix things over night but with in a few generations things would be better
02:11 PM on 03/16/2012
To do this you have to set up what being American means. This is hard when we are supposed to be free agents in a land that is diversified to the point of no connections.
The points that join a nation are religions, language, education and goals. If you look at these you will see that each ave been attacked to divide and destroy by both political parties for decades
One way would be when you are eighteen you have to say the Pledge to the flag and the same pledge that want to be citizens have to face plus pass the test they have to pass to vote and become citizens..
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03:13 PM on 03/16/2012
Religion DOES NOT join a nation as OURS is a SECULAR NATION. It joins those who practice their particular faith by that faith, not by the nation.
03:55 PM on 03/16/2012
I agree with William 50.

The U.S. is not a nation or a nation-state. It is a country. Japan, Germany, Sweden, Poland- those are nation-states.

Nations are built on common cultural and ethnic ties. The U.S. has few common cultural or ethnic ties anymore. The U.S. has a common currency, and, for now, a dominant language. Other than that, the U.S. doesn't have the markers of a nation-state.

Mr. Liu's problem is that he doesn't recognize this distinction. He wants the U.S. to start acting like a nation, but he doesn't recognize that it doesn't have the underlying shared culture necessary to do so.
...but on the other side, it didn't say nothing.
03:48 PM on 03/16/2012
Sorry, but the Pledge of Allegiance defies the Declaration of Independence, which asserts the eternal right to Revolution (see the Anastaplo case).

Respect for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights is all that is necessary to rally around, particularly if we recognize that these rights need to apply to all of humanity.

Filthy rich people with axes to grind are the main obstacle to social cohesion. We need to tax them down to a scale within which they can be tolerated.
I am a Goddess who runs with the wolves
02:09 PM on 03/16/2012
Good luck trying to get people off the couch from in front of the TV.
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01:54 PM on 03/16/2012
Thanks for the definition of asymptotic, “We can keep halving the distance to perfection, but it remains infinitely out of reach. With the goal never fully attainable, the pursuit becomes then an act of faith, and therefore progressive. Progressivism is the belief that something "more perfect" is worth striving for.”

That’s a handy explanation!

I like the idea of conscious assertion which stems from self-empowerment, integrity and a strong sense of place (physical, cultural, historical).
01:51 PM on 03/16/2012
Understand that we will never improve America's problems (Politicians/Government) until we solve the countriens poplulation Ignorance.
The Uninformed, the Uneducated, and the Unwittingly Committed. (Use your intelligence to fill in each category)
Such as "The Uninformed"
# People who do not read newspapers, books,etc.
# People who do not look at C-Span; see their government in action.
# People who do not listen to talk radio or look at proper TV news programs (Truth, NOT Spin)
# Do your own research on a subject, using the Internet--Google Please.
(You do your own research and you will know the difference between Political Spin and the Truth.)
Shaun Hensley
The American Experiment has failed
01:42 PM on 03/16/2012
The American Experiment has Failed. I owe allegiance to nobody save for my compatriots. The system is broken and any attempt to prop it up is helping the oppressors oppress us.
...but on the other side, it didn't say nothing.
01:29 PM on 03/16/2012
Suggestions for accomplishing your goal:

1: enact a tax code that eliminates the potential for plutocracy by drastically limiting discrepancies in private wealth.

2: revive Civics Training as a primary objective of public education.

3. Universal government health care. It has to happen.

3: institute compulsory National Service to last for 2 years following graduation from high school. This would entail a range of activities from military to social to environmental, for which kids could sign up like the different branches of the military today. All would entail a degree of military-style discipline and cohort cohesion. There would be training involved that would be useful in later life. Individuals would receive military-scale stipend, and would afterwards enjoy full college or professional training at no charge.
02:18 PM on 03/16/2012
I've advocated mandatory public service for some time. Anyone who's read Starship Troopers is familiar with having to be honorably discharged from the Federal Service to be able to vote or hold public office. The individual had to have demonstrated that they could put their selfish interests aside for the greater good when necessary.

For those who haven't read the book, the Federal Service was more than just the military (unlike the movie), but the concept of supporting the common good was the same.

This idea will never fly, either.
Ioan Lightoller
Proud Gay Pagan Man, Living Happily With Husband
06:14 AM on 03/17/2012
Just a question: I like the national service idea. However, how do we deal with those who are disabled in some way (mostly physical)? Are you saying they cannot vote. Just wondered can some alternate service be set up to help them serve however they can?
I think, therefore, I don't listen to Limbaugh
02:54 PM on 03/16/2012
"1: enact a tax code that eliminates the potential for plutocracy by drastically limiting discrepancies in private wealth."

Excellent point. Here are several points that should be embedded in this tax code:

1. TAX ALL INCOME EQUALLY. That is, income from dividends, capital gains, interest, etc. should be taxed at the SAME RATES as wage income. NO EXCEPTIONS WHATSOEVER. NO DEDUCTIONS WHATSOEVER. Remember: when rich people don't pay taxes or pay less than their fair share, SOMEONE ELSE HAS TO MAKE UP THE DIFFERENCE.

2. IMPOSE CAPITAL GAINS TAXES ON ASSETS PASSED ON TO HEIRS AT DEATH. This cherished tax break of the rich costs the U.S. Treasury TENS OF BILLIONS OF $ ANNUALLY. Can you guess who ALWAYS gets stuck making up this huge revenue shortfall?



5. REMOVE THE EARNINGS CAP ON SOCIAL SECURITY TAXES (i.e. payroll taxes). That is, IMPOSE FICA TAXES ON ALL WAGE INCOME. Currently, only the first $106,800 of WAGE INCOME is subject to FICA taxes. Income from dividends and capital gains is 100% EXEMPT FROM FICA TAXES.
...but on the other side, it didn't say nothing.
01:13 PM on 03/16/2012
"In these sentiments, sir, I agree to this Constitution with all its faults—if they are such—because I think a general government necessary for us, and there is no form of government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered; and I believe, further, that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other. " Benjamin Franklin, 1787.

The corruption is here. A vast proportion of our countrymen have been made unworkably bitter, selfish, and vapid by the designs of extremely wealthy and powerful plutocrats. The destruction of our public schools, a linchpin of these designs, began decades ago, and no portion of the education system has fared worse than fundamental Civics. Today's conservatives equate "monetary profit" with "civic virtue", and that attitude is imposed on our society through corporate media. As a result; altruism and empathy are scorned, and the fabulously wealthy are nearly worshiped as culture heroes.

I liked your article, but you identify a very difficult task, that faces entrenched and motivated opposition.
02:37 PM on 03/16/2012
Either the commons are held by taxes or by corporations (hence fascism). Both are no fun but which one is worse ?
...but on the other side, it didn't say nothing.
06:36 PM on 03/16/2012
You can't tell which is worse? Then you probably are someone who can't be trusted.

I'm no deadbeat - I've got NO problem with taxes that pay for a sustainable civilization.

There are many problems we need to fix: we need to stop paying for wars of corporate conquest; we need to quit subsidizing destructive industries for the benefit of crooked billionaires,.etc, and paying for these things through our taxes makes us each culpable in their criminality....but we can't do anything as a society that's worth doing without everybody paying their share (that share being calculated on a highly progressive scale).

Corporations controlling the commons is slavery. Its what the American Revolution was about. So which is worse?
04:04 PM on 03/16/2012
It's not just the conservatives. The left is just as culpable. The 60s left intentionally attacked civic duty and responsibility and emphasized hedonism. The right picked up on the libertarian undercurrent of the 60s left to emphasize personal gain over well societal well being. Now we're left with the worst of both worlds- a country populated mostly by selfish, greedy hedonists.
...but on the other side, it didn't say nothing.
04:37 PM on 03/16/2012
I agree to a point. I think the hippie's hedonistic nihilism was a grass-roots (no pun intended) reaction to the realization that the civic virtues officially promulgated had become hollow and meaningless ( in the face of immoral wars of empire, institutional racism, etc.). Meanwhile, the right's assault on citizenship, I believe, is cynically designed to increase the confusion, internal strife, and anxiety of the American populace - toward the end of acquiring the People's political power for a class of aspiring oligarchs.
12:35 PM on 03/16/2012
If any of these progressive changes is to have substance, and be more than fetishized lip service, then the government should in point of fact represent the interests and well-being of the general citizenry as it is mandated to do ("promote the General Welfare," like the Preamble to the Constitution states) over the interests and well-being of select corporate and banking sectors.